DeMarre Carroll Provides The Heart That Brooklyn Has Sorely Needed

Hours after losing out on Otto Porter, Sean Marks went another route in acquiring DeMarre Carroll from the Toronto Raptors. The Brooklyn Nets got their starting small forward while the Raptors shed salary.

In the days following this deal, many praised Marks for acquiring a first-round pick (likely to fall in the 20-25 range) in a draft where the Nets had none. Carroll, who had a disappointing stint with the Raptors, was thought of as a pure salary dump by some. Contrariwise, Nets Nation should not look at the former Atlanta Hawk as simply a number against the cap. Carroll can still be, at the very least, a reliable rotation player for years to come.

Leading up to last weekend’s trade, Carroll has had an interesting career arc. He played four years in college, two at Vanderbilt and two at the University of Missouri. After being selected towards the tail end of the the first round in 2009, it took nearly five seasons from him to find his footing in the league (a bit shocking for a player who has the ideal size and skillset of a stretch four.) Carroll’s first real opportunity in the league came when he enrolled at “Hawks University” in 2013.

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Signing Carroll was one of the first moves the Hawks made under Mike Budenholzer, and he ultimately ended up being a fantastic fit in Coach Bud’s system. He once again embodied the nickname “Junkyard Dog,” a title he was given in college. Carroll turned into a defensive and three-point shooting dynamo in Atlanta. Add 6-8, 215 pound frame and Hawks found themselves with a rare bread.

Since signing a four-year, $60 million deal with Toronto in the summer of 2015, Carroll has failed to continue the success he garnered under Budenholzer (and Kenny Atkinson). His numbers have dropped across the board and injuries have been a recurring theme.

Enter the Brooklyn Nets, who have seemingly turned into the league’s dumping ground for “bad contracts” as long as an asset is attached. Carroll’s role in this deal has been overwhelmingly classified as a salary dump, however, there is hope for him to reclaim his Hawks glory.

Leave Toronto in the Rearview Mirror

It’s easy to conclude that the biggest reason why Carroll has been written off in this trade is due to the past two seasons. One can read anywhere that injuries will always loom for Carroll and that he will never be the same player because of them. In discussing the trade on a recent podcast, Bill Simmons brushed over Carroll’s value all together, saying, “Toronto basically gave up a protected first, and a second for Carroll who couldn’t play for them anymore.” By Simmons’ logic, playing 26 minutes a contest for 72 games last season can be classified as “not being able to play.”

Herein lays the problem with the public’s criticism of Carroll’s Toronto years. The 2016 season was in large part a year that was dominated by injuries for Carroll. However, this could be due to a number of circumstances, with minutes distribution being the most glaring. Dwayne Casey played him 35 minutes a contest until he was hit with a string of injuries beginning in December, 2015. If Casey has continued playing at him at this rate for the entire season, it would’ve ranked in the top 10 for minutes per game that season.